Hello Internet! Bru Baker is in the house for another edition of Flash Fiction Friday. She brings us her short SAHMies. We meet Kade, a stay-at-home dad and desperate for adult conversation, joins the neighborhood Mommies Club. What can possibly go wrong?
SAHMies by Bru Baker
He’d resisted for the last month. Surely the snow and cold must let up at some point, he’d thought. It’ll only be another day until we can get to the park or break out the jogging stroller.
But it snowed. And sleeted. And snowed some more. And when it didn’t snow or sleet, it was too cold for the park or for Jack to nap in the stroller while he ran.
So they stayed in some more.
“You’re being ridiculous, babe.”
Kade glared at his husband, though it was a wasted effort, since Tony was busy watching himself in the hallway mirror so he could get his tie just so. He was still dressing to the nines every day since he was the new guy at the firm, and Kade knew Tony was under a lot of pressure to make a good impression on the partners.
Kade took a breath and counted to ten. They’d moved across the country so he could stay home with Jack. Tony had walked away from a firm where he could have been made a partner in the next five years to take a more lucrative position with a place where had to start all over again building up his reputation and climbing the ranks.
Kade was grateful that he was able to stay home with their six-month-old son. He was. Two months into his one-month paternity leave, he’d come to the realization that another few weeks weren’t going to matter—he couldn’t leave Jack with someone else for the day. He didn’t want to witness his son’s milestones through pictures the daycare sent him.
So they’d left sunny Orange County for the cold, barren wasteland of the Midwest, with its much more reasonable cost of living and its snow. God, the snow.
“Just try it,” Tony said, tightening his perfect winsor knot and turning around.
“It’s just for women.” Kade knew he was being petulant, but he didn’t care. The SAHMies seemed perfect, if not for the fact that it was the acronym for Stay At Home Mom. The group met twice a week, once at a yoga studio for a “Mommy & Me” class and once at a local coffee shop that had a nice, gated area for the babies to play. Both were opportunities for Jack to play with other babies and for Kade to get some much-needed adult interaction—except he was expressly not welcome, given that he didn’t have boobs.
“Babe, it’s not. It says ‘parents and caregivers’ on the website. It’s just a name. You and Jackie should go. It’ll be good for both of you.”
Kade sighed and looked out the window. The predicted one inch of snow had turned into four overnight. It was mid-March, but spring just wasn’t springing. He couldn’t take much more of this.
Tony leaned in for a quick kiss and then stopped by Jack’s high chair to ruffle his hair. “I’ll be home late tonight. I’ll try to come in quietly in case you’re in bed.”
Kade’s plans of a nice dinner flew out he window as Tony left in a flurry of coats and bags.
If Kade wanted to talk to anyone other than Jack today he’d have to man up and go be a mommy.
Kade didn’t exactly orchestrate it so he and Jack were a few minutes late to the “Mommy & Me” class, but he certainly wasn’t sorry. It saved them the awkward introductions and led them straight to the staring and whispers, which were going to happen anyway. At least he didn’t explain that Jack’s “mommy” couldn’t bring him because he didn’t have one, or field any questions about whether or not he was Jack’s “real” dad.
By the time they’d gotten situated on the yoga mat the intructor had laid out for them when they’d rushed into the studio, everyone else was already warmed up and focused on their own moves. Kade had never been that into yoga, but the poses were easy enough to keep up with, and Jack giggled and flailed through the whole thing, clearly having the time of his life. As the hour wore on, Kade loosened up and let go of the tension he’d been carrying since they walked in. Hell—if he was honest, the chip he was getting off his shoulder was one he’d been hauling around since the moving truck left them in their new suburban home almost five weeks ago.
He was pleasantly relaxed by the time class ended. They’d brought their mats into a rough circle and sang a song with the babies to end the class, which had been hokey but not unbearable.
He’d almost gotten Jack into his Arctic-expedition-worthy snowsuit when he heard the sound he’d been dreading—someone clearing their throat behind him.
He closed his eyes and prayed for patience before he turned around to smile warily.
“I’m Cynthia,” the perky blonde said. God, could she be any more Stepford? Everything about her screamed trophy wife. She and her baby were wearing matching yoga outfits. He hadn’t even realized they made those for babies. Poor Jack had just been in a onesie with banana stains on it from breakfast and a pair of baby sweatpants. “This is Bella.”
“Uh, hi. I’m Kade, and this is Jack.”
“We’re always happy to see new faces. I have to admit, you’re the first daddy to join the group.”
He gritted his teeth and forced his smile to stay in place. “Maybe that’s because you’ve got ‘mommies’ in the name,” he said going for wry but missing and just sounding bitter.
“Oh, that,” she said, waving off his comment. “It’s never mattered before.”
He took a breath and tried not to get defensive. “Well, moms aren’t the only ones who can stay home.”
She nodded. “Yes, some wives just aren’t cut out for it.”
And there it was, the gender normative heterosexual bullshit he’d been waiting for. Kade yanked up the zipper on Jack’s snowsuit. He’d given it a shot, and now he was being reminded why it had been stupid to even try. She didn’t seem to notice his anger, though, and kept talking, her blonde ponytail swinging as she gestured.
“I mean, take mine, for example. She’d go crazy if she was home with Bella.”